All caught up!

January 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Posted in General, Random | Leave a comment
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After procrastinating for quite some time I have finally caught up on several years worth of entries.

Feel free to read some, all or none. Though the latter might be the best option given the rush to write them. You have been warned! Sorry.

London

UK

International

Theatre

Gaming

Movies

If you do then thanks for reading, bring on 2014!

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(Another) mean culpa

April 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Posted in General, Random | Leave a comment
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Sorry.

Not much I can say to all of you other than that.

Total lull in updates for you. Been up to some things which will get progressively updated over the next few weeks.

Some of this is getting close to a year old now so you’ll have to bear with me as I get through the backlog. They won’t exactly be long posts, which you’ll probably be happy to hear!

Thanks for reading.

Mea culpa time (again)

February 21, 2011 at 9:00 am | Posted in Blogs, General, Random | Leave a comment
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This is the third, fourth or hundredth in my mea culpa series. Procrastination as always has slowed down my submissions and general day to day life has kept me from further sightseeing. That is quite frustrating.

On the plus side over the next few days I’ll be catching up on some places I went to a while ago and long term readers know that this means abbreviated posts. That might be a good thing.

Thanks for reading!

Something random.

July 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Posted in General, Random | Leave a comment
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I’ve been seeing the following referral search term crop up quite frequently:

“famous roundabout in paris”

Finally I plugged it into Google.

what the?

I was quite surprised to see that my post was the top result! Random but sort of cool and sort of weird as it was created two years ago and it’s a rather random search term.

If there are any SEO experts out there who want to explain that’d be cool!

And for future reference the roundabout is the Arc de Triomphe. 🙂

Might need to go back to Paris now.

Also in other random news get yourselves over to Diamond Geezer‘s blog. He very kindly included me in a post of blog roll links. Thanks!

San Francisco – January 2010

July 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Posted in cafe, Cafes & Restaurants, Food, General, museum, Out and About, Random, Tourism, Travel, USA | Leave a comment
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This was my second visit to San Francisco but the first time as an adult so it was time to party!

San Francisco (218)

I got a great deal through Expedia and stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown. The room and service were excellent –  just what I needed at the end of a long trip.

Now onto the stuff. It’s always about the stuff! Oh I’m going to be completely touristy here.

Alcatraz
Well why not start with one of the most well known prisons in the world. Predictably the ferry trip over was surrounded by fog thus helping to create the ideal atmosphere.

Alcatraz - San Francisco 2010 (118) Alcatraz - San Francisco 2010 (121)

You can opt for an audio guide or not but obviously it’s better with one (and comes with the ticket anyway). I was somewhat familiar with the prison but didn’t know that it was also a military fort, a Native American sit-in protest site and lastly a nature reserve. Many of the buildings are in a state of neglect (probably managed by the Parks Service to keep it at the same level from when they took it over).

Alcatraz - San Francisco 2010 (22)

I rather liked the tour. It was a little tiring walking around but the various anecdotes (such as prisoner escape attempts) made me forget all about sore legs! Or perhaps it was the refreshing sea air.

Alcatraz - San Francisco 2010 (111)

I went early and would suggest the same as it helps to bypass more tourists and maximises the amount of time you can spend on other sightseeing.

Alcatraz - San Francisco 2010 (86)

It may be a bit cliché to go and visit Alcatraz but it is worth the trip.

Fisherman’s Wharf and surrounds
Along the bay is the tourist destination of Fisherman’s wharf and Pier 39. There are an abundance of shops catering to tourists, it’s a bit of a trap but enjoyable to wander around in. Also at Pier 39 you can also check out the seals.

Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco 2010 Sealions at Pier 39 - San Francisco 2010 (1)

Throughout the Wharf, Piers and San Francisco you’ll come across stores selling clam chowder in sour dough bowls. I finally tried it at Boudin’s Bakery (which also has a tour but I didn’t go on it). I thought the dough was a bit, well, sour but on the whole rather nice and filling.

Clam Chowder Sourdough bowl (Boudin Bakery) - San Francisco 2010

Lastly, you might be interested in checking out Musée Mécanique which houses a number of historic penny arcade machines. Most, if not, are still useable and looks like it could be a lot of fun (and just a touch geeky) to play around with.

Musee Mecanique - San Francisco 2010 (1)

Golden Gate Bridge Area
After a bit of a mammoth walk around San Francisco I walked towards the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t worry there are public transport options I just felt like walking.

Before I got there I walked briefly through the presidio where there was a warning about the potentials for coyotes! Even so the presidio was surprisingly calming and relaxing.

Presidio Walk - San Francisco 2010 (2) Presidio Walk - San Francisco 2010 (1)

There’s also the chance to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum but I didn’t have time to go in and check it out. Not to mention the $20 entry fee seemed a little steep.

Walt Disney Family Museum - San Francisco 2010 (3)

At the base of the bridge you’ll find Fort Point. It’s free to enter and a very informative museum covering the history of the fort and military, the bridge and some of the city’s history as well. Top it all off with some excellent views from the roof of the fort and it was definitely one of my favourite places.

Fort Point at the Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco 2010 (5) Fort Point at the Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco 2010 (1)

Other areas
Castro District – Otherwise known as a the LGBT heart of the city. Having heard so much about it for years I expected something particularly wild but it felt like it was a bit gentrified. A rather relaxing and easy going spot. In many ways it was the same sort of vibe as Sydney’s Oxford Street and London’s Compton Street.

Chinatown – Some Chinatowns can be smaller than you expect (London) and others exceed expectations. San Francisco falls under the latter, with numerous shops and cultural establishments down and around a long avenue.

Chinatown - San Francisco 2010 (1)

The Haight – I think I completely missed this iconic district after getting slightly turned around at Alamo Square. It’s apparently worthwhile but I don’t know. I’m not a hippy/ flower power kind of guy. Still it’d be another reason to come back to the city.

Museums that weren’t
Cable Car – I’m not entirely sure if I’d even found the correct spot. I was basing my search on an online mapping reference without having double checked the website. Lesson learnt.

Chinese Historical Society – Prominent signage exists throughout Chinatown and the surrounds. I was quite interested in checking it out but when I reached the ‘open’ museum I couldn’t enter and there didn’t seem to be any information on how to enter or what to do.

The Chinese Museum that wasn't - San Francisco 2010 (2)

Other
Lombard Street – It’s a twisty, twisty street. That’s about it. Still one of those things traditional tourist spots.

Lombard Street - San Francisco 2010 (1)

UN Plaza/Civic Center – San Francisco was where the UN Charter was signed so I couldn’t help but take a few moments at the UN Plaza. Although only a few moments, it felt a little seedy.

UN Plaza - San Francisco 2010 (1)

Ferry building – I came through on the weekend when it housed a farmers market on top of its regular shops. There were plenty of tourists and locals around calmly queuing for the various goodies on offer.

Coit Tower – This impressive tower stands atop a bluff looking out over the Bay. When I walked up I was too early, on a clear day it would be worthwhile to pay and take in the views from the top.

Coit Tower - San Francisco 2010 (4)

Food and drink
Mama’s – A brilliant breakfast at Washington Square. It’s popular with tourists and locals. The staff are busy but will try and help as much as possible.

Vesuvio – A number of people recommended this relaxed bar and it’s perfect for a catch up with friends (which I did with the wonderful LadyeeNerd)

Vesuvio - San Francisco 2010 (2)

Cafe Trieste – On a side street near a church this crowded cafe offers the usual assortment of coffees and snacks. Apparently it’s quite popular. The mocha was reasonable and sitting outside offered some decent people watching.

Blue Bottle – This was a late recommendation but it was a good call – thanks LaydeeNerd. The Blue Bottle was located at the Ferry Building and there was quite a queue on the weekend. While the mocha wasn’t as sweet as I’d like it was still nice and other patrons seemed happy with their brews.

Peet’s Coffee – A local coffee shop chain and it was excellent. The staff were friendly and the coffees tasty. I wish it was warmer so I could have tried their chillers as well. Oh well yet another reason to come back.

On the whole I liked the city but I don’t think I could live here. It’s not just because of all the hills but the city just seemed too quiet for me. There was a considerable lack of bustle. I’ve grown used to a certain level of activity after living in Sydney and London. Perhaps I could learn to thrive on less – but not yet.

Certainly for a holiday spot it’s great and well worth multiple visits. Often it seemed as though each corner brought out a new type of district, each with its own flavour. Hopefully next time I’ll go beyond the city core as well!

More photos at Flickr and locations at Google Maps.

Victoria to Angel Walk

March 3, 2009 at 12:19 am | Posted in General, London, Out and About, photos, Random | 2 Comments
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Playing catch up on another photolog. I used to live in Angel and until recently worked in Victoria during that time I would regularly walk to and from on a journey crossing central London. Here is a selection of photos from that route.

Victoria to Angel (20) Victoria to Angel (111)

Victoria to Angel (113) Victoria to Angel (61)

Victoria to Angel (62) Victoria to Angel (9)

Victoria to Angel (99) Victoria to Angel (48)

Victoria to Angel (123) Victoria to Angel (17)

More at Flickr.

Snow Day

March 2, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Posted in General, photos, Random | Leave a comment
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About a month (and a season) late here are a few photos from London’s big snow day. It seemed appropriate to post now that reports into the transport collapse have been finalised. I wish I could have made it into the city to photograph some of the major sites but being a child again and playing in the snow was a lot of fun. I can’t wait till the next big snow fall or even venturing a bit further afield and going skiing or somesuch.

Snow Day 02-02-09 (2) Snow Day 02-02-09 (28) Snow Day 02-02-09 (17) Snow Day 02-02-09 (24) Snow Day 02-02-09 (4)

More photos at Flickr!

Pollocks Toy Museum

February 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Random, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Located in a side street near Goodge Street tube is the small and quaint Pollocks Toy Museum. The outside of the museum and toy shop looks a little run down but the staff seemed cheery. Although that could be because we were paying £5 (adult) to enter the museum.

Pollocks Toy Museum Pollocks Toy Museum (3)

The museum is located above the shop and via some occasionally cramped stairwells. Many of the exhibits and all of the rooms offer a synopsis of the content.

Generally the displays are most suited for those of a certain age and interest in older toys. The bulk is focused on dolls and dollhouses with a few sections on games and other assorted turn of the century children’s toys. Rather incongruously we noticed in one case a Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles Box with a Phantom Menace Game on the back.

While some of the pieces were interesting it wasn’t something I’d recommend unless you particularly like dolls. Nonetheless there was a stream of people coming in, mainly families with small children and retirees.

Personally, I think the museum would benefit by giving up some shelf space to some more recent toys from the 60s to the present, which would help to diversify the age of visitors.

Night at the Museum – the Science Museum

October 16, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Random, Tourism, Travel, UK | 2 Comments
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Wednesday night (24 September) was London’s Science Museum’s inaugural late night opening specifically for adults. All in all a great time made all the more pleasant by having some friends to share the experience.

The best part of the night was hands down the lack of children and massive crowds. It made navigation and enjoyment so much easier and less stressful. The museum put on several bars and a DJ. Remember t bring your I’d as the doorman/ bouncer will check. The computers exhibit featured a build a robot/robot wars activity. There were also Lindy Hoppers dancing up a storm. The crowd (and our) favourite was the hands on section. Normally dominated by children but for a few brief hours adults could play, laugh, learn and revel in the wonder of science.

Unfortunately I do have one criticism. Namely that the entire museum was not open. I’m not sure if this is the result of crowd control and security concerns but it seems to go against the concept of a late opening.

Overall, the crowd was very cool with a healthy mix of suits, geeks and the groovy hopefully brought together by science! I know I had a big grin when one of the ever present and helpful Explainers … explained the maglev concepts. If most people came away with a similar experience then it was a worthwhile night.

I probably won’t go back for a few months as I don’t want to kill the novelty but I’ll wait and see what they have planned for the night.

Other late night events around London can be found at lates.org

There are some less than stellar mobile photos at Flickr.

Sky Player Rant

August 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm | Posted in General, Random, rant, Television, TV | Leave a comment
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Sky is currently advertising the benefits of its Sky Player, a downloadable piece of software that allows you to watch Sky programming without having a connection at home (with a small payment).

I wanted to be a good net citizen so rather than using alternate arrangements to watch a particular show I chose to go through all the steps and hoops in order to access the player. They were advertising the show on the main page so everything should be fine, right?

Not really, Sky Player is almost a front for a phishing scam. To download the player you have to provide a date of birth and place of birth. Then to access the payment system you have to answer the mandatory question of stating your mother’s maiden name.

While concerned about the ultimate fate of my data I provided this information because I wanted to do the right thing. I completed the steps and put some money onto my account. I clicked onto my preferred show only to be told that this program is restricted to Sky subscribers and specifically those with a particular Sky bolt-on package.

I rang them up and was told licensing restrictions meant some shows can only be streamed to certain Sky subscribers. As an aside if you do successfully pay for a program it will be streamed once; you can pay more for additional rental periods. You have to wonder what happens if there is a problem during the streaming.

I can appreciate that there will always be licensing issues but Sky should not be offering a service – promoting that you don’t need to be a subscriber – let alone a specific package if you can’t follow through. At the very least don’t prominently display shows with specific subscription requirements.

I’ve now deleted the player and I tried to cancel the account but there is no delete account function in the profile settings section.

In the end my efforts fell flat and Sky has more details about me than they really should. It’s a good thing that they’re a benevolent corporation right? Then again data security at Sky and it’s parent company can’t be any worse than the British government.  

I wonder if Hulu in the US is as bad?

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